LtGen Johny Josephus Lumintang
Deputy Army Chief of Staff (Wakasad)
Nine days after Lumintang became deputy army chief of staff, President Habibie announced to the world that East Timor could have a referendum on independence. Whether or not Lumintang knew about this in advance, it presumably became one of his major responsibilities.
On 5 May 1999 he signed a secret order sent to the Udayana Kodam Commander (Major-General Adam Damiri), the military area that included East Timor. It had been drafted by his subordinate MajGen Kiki Syahnakri. The letter ordered its recipients to: 1. Be ready to confront all possibilities in the choice of options for the East Timorese; 2. Prepare a security plan with the aim of preventing the outbreak of civil war including preventative action (creation of conditions), police actions, repressive/ coercive actions as well as plans for evacuation if the second option eventuated.
Lumintang was recommended for further investigation in the final report of the KPP HAM for having issued an order in the name of the Army Chief of Staff that was the basis for the forced mass evacuation after the ballot. KPP HAM interviewed him (for 20 minutes!) on this issue on 23 December 1999. Albert Hasibuan, who led the investigation, said that Lumintang was not actually one of the 'targets' of the KPP HAM, to which the Kompas editor added: because as Deputy Army Chief of Staff he was not closely involved in operational activities in East Timor. Kompas reported that the telegram was written by Lumintang in the name of the Army Chief of Staff (Gen Subagyo HS). Lumintang confirmed its existence but said it was an internal military document. Hasibuan said Lumintang had claimed that the evacuees referred to in the telegram included only TNI members and their families, but the KPP HAM appears to have made no issue at all of the other parts of the telegram.
In March 2000 he was presented with a case against him by several East Timorese at a US District Court in Washington for gross violations of human rights in 1999. The case was heard in March 2001. Lumintang did not appear. He was convicted in September 2001 and ordered to pay US$ 66 million to six plaintiffs - a ruling the Indonesian Foreign Minister immediately said would be ignored (see the contribution by Richard Tanter in this volume).
Johny Lumintang is a Protestant born in Menado, northern Sulawesi, in 1947. He graduated from the military academy in 1970. In his 20s and early 30s he was an infantry commander in Irian Jaya and then East Timor. He was involved in the invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the brutal pacification campaign in the four years that followed.
There is little information about his activities in the 1980s but it is known that he undertook some training in the US in 1987 and again, under the IMET program, in 1990. After heading Kostrad's 18th Airborne Infantry Brigade from 1990 to 1992 he rose quickly through the ranks to become military commander of East Timor (1993-94) and in 1996 commander of the Trikora military area encompassing Irian Jaya and the Moluccas.
Six months prior to Suharto's resignation he moved to Jakarta to take up the important position of Assistant for Operations to the Armed Forces Chief of Staff for General Affairs. Amid the drama of May 1998, Lumintang was installed as head of Kostrad to replace the disgraced Prabowo. Dissatisfaction in Habibie's government that a Christian identified in the past with Benny Murdani could hold such a powerful position saw Lumintang removed 17 hours later and transferred to Bandung to head the Armed Forces Staff and Command School (Sesko ABRI/TNI). In January 1999 he replaced Fachrul Razi in the number two man in the army, the Deputy Army Chief of Staff (Wakasad), where he remained until November 1999.
Lumintang then became the governor of the National Defence Institute (Lemhannas) - which some saw as a slight given his operational experience - and in February 2001 was appointed as Secretary General of the Defence Department. President Abdurrahman Wahid saw him as an ally when, on the eve of his impeachment in July 2001, he sought in vain to have Lumintang installed as Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces.